Apple Help In Japan
as seen by RL Seltman from high above KyotoAlso, Asians have already taken for granted many of the benefits not yet in the Apple iPhone... Full 3G capabilities and top-of-the-line photo-taking is standard fare here and were not available on the initial iPhone. Yet, that said, there is something special in Apple styling. Brand recognition for slick fashion-conscious Japanese buyers is important. Your status is quickly defined here by the phone in your hand.
Unlike the USA, Europe, and even Canada, by Christmas 2007 the iPhone had not yet been released in Japan. Rumor is negotiations with 'the 300 pound guerilla' NTT (DoCoMo being their mobile phone division) was going slowly. Convincing such a spoiled giant to share revenue is no easy task, even for the wily S.Jobs and company.
Japanese are always thirsting for style innovation. And for now, there is only the dubious phone-less iPod Touch and the ubiquitous smaller iPod variants to keep young consumers, laden with grandma's New Year gift money, somewhat titillated. We hope Jobs will surprise us later in 2008, perhaps with something 'tiny yet potent'. Tiny and potent is how we in Japan like things. We are talking 'flash memory' for stylishly skinny yet dramatically fast, like maybe on a PowerBook proportioned for Japanese narrow-seated trains and delicate fingertips or a Japanized iPhone.
Apple Japan continues to provide good service for English shoppers, unfortunately, despite marketing blitzes, few products are calling customers in. The latest Leopard operating system 10.5+ has integrated well into the market, as Window's latest Vista continues to be beaten critically on all fronts. We now can see there are few reasons to be excited by innovations in operating systems, much more to fear, and so the market has moved into a more conservative stage toward upgrades.
We geek fan boys do upgrade, but there is no longer any romance to it all. Hardware innovations like iPhone and Wii are the most recent "waiting-in-line on-opening-day" wonders, and even this phenomena is depleting with each new release. Marketing magicians will need to dig deep into their top hats for the next great craze.
For marketers and Asian watchers the doings of both Korea and China is what is happening here in the Orient. Clones (clone 'Apple' iPhones are available in the back alleys now), explosive markets (statistics of profit beyond imagination), powerful national policies (both good and evil), and wild card innovation incessantly bubble from the mainland of NE Asia. No one knows whether to lust for or run from China, though obviously the bottom-line screams hold fast.
Only in the science of 'cute' does Japan reign supreme. 'Anime' and 'manga' attest, Japanese pop has extraordinary resilience in world markets. Nihon intuitive graphic passion some how taps something primal, in the core pressure points of sex, violence, and saccharin sweet. All of this suggesting how much the Asian scene needs to be considered seriously, by anyone hoping to tap the profitable promise of our children's consuming trends.
If you haven't been to Asia to see for yourself, you are decidedly out of focal range of the future of consumerism. You know 'consumerism', it follows 'communism' and proceeds the final ecological breakdown of the planet. Are you a capitalist sifting the sands for gold? Bring together green (i.e. ecologically oriented capital), Japanese efficiency of scale, and Yankee technological wizardry, and you can get your share of the Indian and Chinese markets... nor least we forget the old world favorites, of Europe and the USA.
Rich and righteous at once, a wealth-hungry liberal wet dream... Asians solutions and markets married to Silicone Valley avant-guarde venturism. For a case study, let's see how Steve handles Asia this year. After all, he is our quintessential liberal leader, in the 'quite essential' election year of 2008. Maybe he will even bring the internet video phenomena to the all pervasive High Density digital TV... with something like Apple TV, only much better.